Riding the Zamboni – Thursday, February 17th

Boston 6, NY Islanders 3

Amidst rampant trade rumors (which turned out to be blown out of proportion), the Bruins went out and showed everyone that they are perfectly capable of dominating a game with the roster they have. Boston scored three goals in the first 9:04 and never looked back en route to snapping their 3-game losing streak. Conversely, the loss snaps the Islanders season long 4 game winning streak. If you ignore the 1st period, they didn’t really play that bad.

NY Rangers 4, Los Angeles 3 (SO)

Headline writers had a field day as King Henrik beat the Kings for his 200th career win. Twice in the 3rd period, the Rangers scored the go-ahead goal only to see the Kings respond within 2 minutes with a goal of their own. The win is the Rangers second in a row, while the OT point gives the Kings points in 11 straight.

Detroit 6, Tampa Bay 2

In a game that was billed as “Stevie Y against his Old Team,” the old team showed that they’re doing just fine without him. The #2 seed in the Western Conference took the #2 seed from the Eastern Conference behind the woodshed and reminded them they’ve been there before. After the game, Lightning coach Guy Boucher said, “This is the standard in the league. This is the best all-around team. We’ve got a ways to go to get to that level. We have two months to get there.”

I doubt he’ll get any arguments from his players.

Nashville 3, Vancouver 1

In a bit of role reversal, the Canucks saw opponents dropping like flies as Mike Fisher and Steve Sullivan were both hit in the face with a puck. Mix in Marcel Goc also leaving the game with an injury, and it was a rough night for the Predators.

But not all was bad in Nashville. Mike Fisher got his 1st goal as a Predator (and playing a good all-around game) and they were able to control the game against the NHL’s #1 team for the majority of the contest. On the plus side for Vancouver, no Canuck defensemen were injured while writing this post.

Edmonton 4, Montreal 1

What are the chances that the Montreal Canadiens were looking past this game towards this weekend’s Heritage Classic? Ales Hemsky scored the first goal of the game and added an empty-netter; which must have pleased Edmonton’s management if they’re looking to trade him before the deadline. But the best news of the night had nothing to do with hockey at all: James Wisniewski (after taking a puck off the face), “only” suffered a broken cheekbone and did not suffer a serious eye injury.

Phoenix 4, Atlanta 3

Another game, another win for the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes were able to comeback from a 3-2 deficit to earn the victory and jump to 1st place in the ever changing Pacific Division. Unfortunately for fans in Atlanta, the loss by the Thrashers was just more of the same. The loss drops the Thrashers to 3-9-4 in their last 16 games and finds them in the 10th spot in the East.

San Jose 3, Washington 2

Back-to-back games on an East Coast swing proved to be a little too much for the struggling Caps as they dropped their fourth game in their last five. Then again, they’ve now lost 11 straight at the Shark Tank–so it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise.

While the Caps have been struggling against Pacific Division opponents as of late, the Sharks have been riding a hot streak 11-2-1 in their last 14.

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    2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs second-round schedule

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    Time to get your ducks in a row (Anaheim or otherwise), as the second-round schedule has been released.

    As you can see, the West series begin on Wednesday while the East ones kick into gear on Thursday. Read up on the matchups here.

    For the sixth consecutive year, every Stanley Cup playoff game will be presented nationally across the platforms of NBC Sports Group and select NBCUniversal networks.

    (Games listed by date, start time, teams and network.)

    EASTERN CONFERENCE

    Date TIME (ET) #1 Washington vs. #2 Pittsburgh Networks
    Thursday, April 27 7:30 p.m. Pittsburgh at Washington NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Saturday, April 29 8 p.m. Pittsburgh at Washington NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
    Monday, May 1 7:30 p.m. Washington at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Wednesday, May 3 7:30 p.m. Washington at Pittsburgh NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    *Saturday, May 6 TBD Pittsburgh at Washington TBD
    *Monday, May 8 TBD Washington at Pittsburgh TBD
    *Wednesday, May 10 TBD Pittsburgh at Washington TBD

    Date TIME (ET) #2 Ottawa vs. #4 NY Rangers Networks
    Thursday, April 27 7 p.m. NY Rangers at Ottawa CNBC, CBC, TVA Sports
    Saturday, April 29 3 p.m. NY Rangers at Ottawa NBC, CBC, TVA Sports
    Tuesday, May 2 7 p.m. Ottawa at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Thursday, May 4 7:30 p.m. Ottawa at NY Rangers NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    *Saturday, May 6 TBD NY Rangers at Ottawa TBD
    *Tuesday, May 9 TBD Ottawa at NY Rangers TBD
    *Thursday, May 11 TBD NY Rangers at Ottawa TBD

    WESTERN CONFERENCE

    Date TIME (ET) #1 Anaheim vs. #2 Edmonton Networks
    Wednesday, April 26 10:30 p.m. Edmonton at Anaheim NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Friday, April 28 10:30 p.m. Edmonton at Anaheim NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Sunday, April 30 7 p.m. Anaheim at Edmonton NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Wednesday, May 3 10 p.m. Anaheim at Edmonton NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    *Friday, May 5 TBD Edmonton at Anaheim TBD
    *Sunday, May 7 TBD Anaheim at Edmonton TBD
    *Wednesday, May 10 TBD Edmonton at Anaheim TBD

    Date TIME (ET) #3 St. Louis vs. #4 Nashville Networks
    Wednesday, April 26 8 p.m. Nashville at St. Louis NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Friday, April 28 8 p.m. Nashville at St. Louis NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
    Sunday, April 30 3 p.m. St. Louis at Nashville NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    Tuesday, May 2 9:30 p.m. St. Louis at Nashville NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
    *Friday, May 5 TBD Nashville at St. Louis TBD
    *Sunday, May 7 TBD St. Louis at Nashville TBD
    *Tuesday, May 9 TBD Nashville at St. Louis TBD

    Starting time and national broadcast information for games listed TBD will be announced when available.

    2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Second-round matchups

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    Want to know when and how to watch each game? Check out the second-round schedule here.

    Eastern Conference

    Washington Capitals vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

    Washington really had to sweat it against Toronto, but while the journey took more twists and turns than expected, both juggernauts ended up in a position to justify their statuses as favorites.

    During the Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby runs for the franchises, the Penguins won both second-round series (first in 2009 and then last year). In each case, Pittsburgh went on to win the Stanley Cup.

    Will the Capitals finally break through in what might be their best chance ever? There isn’t a better way for them to truly prove their mettle than to do so against a Penguins team that looks dangerous, even with key injuries to consider.

    Ottawa Senators vs. New York Rangers

    Both teams beat higher seeds in the first round, surprising at least some. There are some fun storylines here, from a clash of two star Swedes (Erik Karlsson vs. Henrik Lundqvist) to fun trade talk involving Mika Zibanejad and Derick Brassard.

    On paper, these teams aren’t as linked as the other East series, but playoff glory can make franchises become hated rivals in little time.

    Western Conference

    Anaheim Ducks vs. Edmonton Oilers

    So much orange. So many goals?

    With the Blackhawks, Kings, Wild and Sharks out, the Ducks get home-ice in the West and probably rank as the most familiar contender in a conference that seems heavy on “new blood.” Then again, they’re still driven by a red-hot Ryan Getzlaf, but this isn’t the same Anaheim squad as the last time they made a longer run.

    Speaking of new blood, it’s unavoidable to describe the Oilers any other way. Edmonton hopes to keep its first playoff run in more than a decade going, and this series might actually be a better showcase for Connor McDavid than those tighter games vs. the Sharks.

    St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

    Is there a matchup of goalies on hotter streaks right now than Jake Allen vs. Pekka Rinne? These “underdogs” held the top teams in the Central Division to one playoff victory combined.

    While there are plenty of carryover characters from previous postseason editions of the Blues (Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen) and the Predators (Roman Josi), there’s also a new Blues coach in Mike Yeo and newly featured Nashville pieces such as P.K. Subban.

    Which team will go deeper than many outside of their locker room expected? We’ll find out.

    Capitals close out Maple Leafs after one last OT classic

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs couldn’t grab the torch from the Washington Capitals in this series, but they put up a tremendous struggle.

    Auston Matthews continued to make an impression with a goal in his fourth consecutive game, yet it wasn’t enough to send this scintillating series to a Game 7. Instead, Marcus Johansson collected tying and game-winning goals, leading Washington to a 2-1 OT win to take the series 4-2.

    Here is video of the tally that ended Toronto’s season:

    While the Capitals taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins is “expected,” the path to get there wasn’t as many drew it up. Toronto gave Washington all it can handle in a series that tied a record with five trips beyond regulation.

    The Maple Leafs can take heart in pushing the play for large spans of the series, although there have also been spans where it felt like the Caps found that extra gear.

    Toronto fans who’ve been longing for a return to playoff glory must be experiencing mixed feelings. This young bunch achieved more than just about anyone expected, particularly in this series against the Presidents’ Trophy winners. That might be why it burns, though; Buds fans deal with the bitter feeling of so close.

    Then again, the Capitals know all about that. They hope to avoid repeating such history in this huge opportunity. Perhaps facing a far tougher-than-expected challenge to start things off might be a blessing in disguise?

    Capitals’ Schmidt hurt by Leafs’ Komarov; Record 18th playoff game to OT

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    Now, players are known to at least try to return to games after injuries, sometimes ultimately leaving such efforts unsuccessful.

    So, it’s possible that the Washington Capitals should still be concerned about defenseman Nate Schmidt. The solid depth blueliner was helped off the ice after a hit by Leo Komarov of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the good news is that he was at least able to make his way back for a spin later on in the same third period.

    Does that mean he’ll be OK? We’ll see. The game is entering OT – the 18th of this round, a new NHL record – so a possible Schmidt injury could put Washington at a disadvantage during “free hockey.”

    It makes sense that Toronto and Washington made it a new record, as this is the fifth time in six games that they beyond regulation in this series. Wow.